I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Friday, December 29, 2006


Ah, here's that post-big-night-out "what the fuck was I playing at? why didn't I slow down/have less/etc? I've got to stop" introspection. Excuse du jour: err, I don't really have one.

Monday, December 25, 2006

map mistakes

This road is not called Box Lane. It's called Bow Lane.

So this is Christmas

What have I done? Well, I've been round me dad's all day, walked there this morning and got back not too long ago. Just put South Park on having had a shower 'cos I was stinking like a total bastard, probably because I was trotting at a decent pace while wearing 3 layers of clothes, 2 of which were coats. One of them was a present from me dad and step-mum, who seemed unsure whether I liked it or not. I think my using the phrase "oh mint, that's proper" may have been at the root of their confusion.

If I recall correctly, Christmas Day is the only day of the year I've never been in a pub. Still is. The Beverley in Lower Morden wasn't going to change that. I've actually had a completely dry day and not before time. It's no secret I've been caning it like an absolute bastard over the last few weeks, but even by those standards the weekend was fucking ridiculous. That's what happens when I get given a free ticket to see Iron Maiden. I was already half-cut on Friday when I got told about that and spent the rest of the evening celebrating, but Saturday itself was fucking incredible.

Let me just get this out of the way first though: Trivium are still rubbish live. Their drummer can't keep time.

Anyway. 3 of us got on the train at about 1745 on Saturday. With beer. Probably too much beer for such a short journey. Finished it off anyway, and waited outside Earls Court trying to get hold of Darryl, since he had the tickets. When he said "Aaah, it was just a joke lads", obviously joking, I managed to threaten him with a glassing. I believe the actual phrase I used was
Why do you think we're drinking out of bottles and not cans mate? I figured the glass would come in useful in case I needed to start an altercation
I'm not sure saying this, loudly, and less than 5 yards from the nearest policeman was that sensible an idea. Dear police, and, in fact, society as a whole: I wouldn't actually have glassed him. Just can't get out of this urban savage chic phase at the mo, innit.

Fucking hell did we put it away. So so much to drink. All four of us were total fucking disgraceful dipso lush fucks, frankly, and the next day was almost a total write-off for everyone -- although me and Wooj managed a few in the evening to celebrate his birthday. Whether we'd manage that was touch and go for a while, mind. But the best bit about yesterday was that each time I had a hangover twinge, instead of the normal "what the fuck was I playing at? why didn't I slow down/have less/etc? I've got to stop" introspection, I instead started laughing at the memory of the night. A real fucking belter.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Make you breathe more easily

That new Jarvis single is rubbish. XFM London should stop playing it. The intro really reminds me of another song though and in 2 weeks of hearing it on typically heavy rotation I've still not managed to place it.

I can't work out whether I like all of The View's Same Jeans or not. His voice sometimes grates, at other times I like it. The rolled Rs are the sticking point I think. But I do like the fast bit at the very end, which much like Jarvis's song reminds me of something else.

In fact lots of stuff reminds me of something else. Am I the only person in the world who can hear a very definite Dead Kennedys resemblance in songs by Arctic Monkeys? A band who, by the way, might be worth questioning over the Suffolk streetcleaning, given these lyrics.

I'm going to have to buy the Razorlight album I think. I fuckin' hate that America song, but Before I Fall To Pieces is great, and I really like the other one on the TV advert whose name escapes me right now.

The Ordinary Boys' Boys Will Be Boys starts off with some great lyrics, but my favourite "night out" lyrics are still these ones from The Zutons.

Lord give me grace and dancing feet, and the power to impress. Is it so wrong to crave recognition?

Earlier this year I was chatting to some friends and saying just how much I wanted Sacred Reich to reform. Seemingly every other thrash band from the 80s/90s cusp is either still going or has recently got back together for a filthy lucre tour, but no sign of these boys. Most disappointing. Well blow me down with a feather, not only have they got back together but they're touring the UK and playing at Wacken, for which I already have tickets and transport.

Malevolent Creation are back 'n all. I saw them supporting Pestilence once, in Walthamstow, having had an entire bottle of Thunderbird Red on the tube from Morden. I don't remember if they were any good, although thinking about it I saw them later on in the same tour at the Marquee and they were fantastic.

A few weeks ago I was scouring for Bogdan Raczynski and couldn't find hardly anything that didn't cost a fortune. IIRC I ended up with a Rephlex records compilation and that was it. Discovered earlier this week while working late with a colleague from upstairs that he's got bloody loads of his tunes, and gave me access to a bunch of it. Superb. I still want to buy it, if I can find it at a reasonable price, but for now I can at least listen to him.

Been rereading my holiday blog entries recently. I noticed that when I was in Auckland I posted this:

Hmm. Panic! At The Disco sound like Fallout Boy, and to my utmost annoyance I've found myself liking the latter (and, therefore, the former) recently. "lalalalala cock it and pull it", etc. Goddamn emo rubbish being all catchy and shit. Thank fuck I've placed a moratorium on buying any CDs 'cos they're too heavy to cart around the fucking world, hopefully by the time I get back to England this phase will have passed.

Jesus. How wrong was I?

Monday, December 18, 2006

'tis the season

'tis the season
Originally uploaded by Darren Foreman.
I was going to have a dry weekend. Instead I went to the pub on both Saturday and Sunday. However, I feel less bad about my lack of self-control because I've just read this. So there.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Walked 10 miles today. Clicking on "small" next to where it says "Elevation" is quite interesting. Richmond Park seems nice -- I've never really explored it before, and didn't do much today, so that gives me something to do sometime. Who has sovereignty over postcodes? There are road signs on Kingston Vale and the roads coming off it that say Royal Borough of Kingston at the top left, and SW15 at the bottom. I kind of thought the borough border would also be the postcode border.
Got my name read out on XFM finally yesterday, on about the 5th attempt I guess. Can't even remember who the DJ was but it was a guy in the morning asking for hangover cures. Darren in Surbiton recommends a Lucozade Hydroactive and a packet of crisps, which rarely fails but if it does, a Guinness fixes everything. Natasha on 6music read me out again 'n all, even though I emailed in during a section of the show where she hadn't been inviting contact (I said the new Fall Out Boy single, played in Emo Corner, sounded like Christina Aguilera; she, her producer, and another listener thought it was more like N*Sync).
I hate football commentators. They're nearly all shit except for Andy Gray and Martin Tyler. Alan Smith just said "this is probably the pick of the bunch without doubt". Is that probably, or without doubt, Alan? You fucking idiot. David Pleat once said "I like this lad, he's got plenty of that side-to-side width". Not that top-to-bottom width then Dave? Can't remember who it was that said "alarm bells are flashing" the other week. Chris Kamara made 90 minutes worth of howlers during a play-off final the other year which everyone I was with kept picking up on and getting infuriated by. During Cardiff -vs- QPR a while ago they might as well hae been watching a different game such was their interpretation of how the game was panning out. Etc. In fact now the guy who isn't Alan Smith just said "Is it my memory playing tricks or how many great goals have we had this season?". What the fuck does that mean?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Cricket. Fuck it. Cock it and pull it.

I wish I didn't care about cricket. We're so awful. It's not like I expected anything different, after the 2nd test, but I still can't stop watching the 3rd. It's painful. I thought it'd be over in 3 days but the Aussies have decided to fucking humiliate us. Gilchrist has just taken 24 off a Panesar over including 3 sixes. Sigh.

Burnout Revenge on xbox 360 is fun. When I'm in the right mood, of course, and last night to the delight of all concerned (ie my opponents, who in the past have had to suffer me storming off in a Big Gay Huff) I somehow was. Played 'til just gone 0200. Discovering that the soundtrack is a bunch of emo helped, Fall Out Boy FTW!

Threads is amazingly bleak, grim, depressing, distressing even. Astonishing film. Glad I live and work in London, I presume this place would be a nuke target and I'd likely get vapourized rather than survive.

I might go to this exhibition at the British Library later or tomorrow.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

off the rails

Got some post from South West Trains this morning. Half expected it to be a demand for monies owed, having completed a Surrey hat trick of post-drinks fare-dodges last night by waking up in Guildford. On the last train. This time the Yahoo! Christmas party was to blame (although the drinks before going there might have had something to do with it too). So there I was at 0150 or so, no trains back to London until 0353. Got some money out to get a cab and discovered there were 2 other guys in the same boat, so we agreed to share (they both needed Kingston; result).

Unfortunately while at the ATM I'd discovered that my travelcard was missing from my wallet. I gave a fairly thorough check to make sure it wasn't just not-on-top, but didn't find it. It runs out on January 7th so it's not the greatest hardship in the world, I'd only have lost 3 weeks or so worth. Mind you that's 90-odd quid. Anyway. I wanted it back. The cab was turning up in 5 minutes and some very kind and accomodating SWT staff let me back on the locked-up train to look for it. 'course I had no fucking idea what carriage I'd been in or anything. During my search the fella got called on his walkie-talkie saying the other two were about to fuck off in that cab unless I made it back sharpish, so I admitted defeat and came home. Dunno how much it was going to cost but I shoved 20 quid in one of my fellow disgraces faces as they dropped me off, about 100 yards from my door.

My travelcard was in my wallet. Just not on top.

Monday, December 11, 2006

View from the morning

At my desk before 0700 on a Monday morning. What the hell is wrong with me? I have to go home early today.

I need to change the way I talk. I know there are plenty of people who get aggravated by lots of things in the way modern English works, specifically by the overuse of superlatives and extremes. The way people say "literally" in a way that means the precise opposite of "literally" is an example, I think, of the extremes I mean. Like "I literally shat myself when Slayer came on" -- no, you didn't, did you? You figuratively shat yourself, perhaps. Anyway. I'm as guilty of it as the next man but I've been inspired to try and change, and the reason is I saw a film last night called Death Machines.

See I'm prone to describing things as "the worst [whatever] ever". There's several instances where the '[whatever]' in question has been a film, and there are some wrongs to right. I need to apologise to the makers of Sliver. Home Alone? Not such a bad film. The Crow? I guess it has some redeeming features. Death Machines? Without doubt the worst film I have ever seen. And I've seen Plan 9 From Outer Space 'n all. And They Came From Beyond Space. And Maniac Nurses Find Ecstasy.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The number of the beast

I was going to go for a 15, 20, even 25 mile walk yesterday. I didn't. Managed the just-under-6-miles from home to me Dad's place though, good preparation for Christmas that. I just couldn't be arsed leaving the house any earlier than 3pm, despite getting up plenty early enough for a long 'un. I just lazed around watching football on TV instead. Ho hum.

Got on the radio again this morning. 6music once more, this time for bigging up Mysterious Cities of Gold's theme tune.

Left the house at 0945 today to walk to Chessington, but gave up halfway and got on a bus. The reason I was heading that way is 'cos I'd agreed last night to join Loz and Freya on their trip to the zoo.

I love zoos. They're great. If memory serves correctly I've been to zoos in Paris, Cologne, Berlin, New York, Singapore, Sydney, and now Chessington. Actually that doesn't sound like enough, but maybe it is. Anyway. Chessington's is perhaps somewhat less splendid than the others but heading there on what turned into a fairly grey and very cold English December day was a great idea. I love visiting summery places out of season. Spending a few days on the Isle of Wight in November 2003 was a superb case in point. There's something about the bleak desolation, exacerbated by the weather, of a half-closed, almost-deserted tourist attraction which really appeals to me; Chessington Zoo today provided just that. The bleakness was even compounded by the horrid building site of the 150 room hotel being built on the premises. Ace.

The animals help too, mind. There aren't masses of 'em but they've got spider monkeys and rabbits and alpaca and gorillas and lions and tigers and stuff, innit. I do think it's a genuine shame, rather than just something to take the piss out of, when something so obviously educational is let down by bad English though. Like, say, on a sign explaining stuff about the Grey Owl where, highlighted as one of the things to remember, is a mis-spelling of the word "Arctic". Artic indeed :-(

Hung out at Loz's for a while after the zoo, getting a couple of films he illegaled for me last night in the process, then decided to walk home. The "walking as a form of transport" route is just over 3 miles, but is a pretty horrible walk through shitholes and along very big roads; but the "I've got nothing worthwhile to do with my time" route I managed to concoct was 6.5 miles, and thoroughly pleasant. Well, not thoroughly, but perhaps 85% so. Deliberately walked faster than normal, partly to see what speed I could keep up and partly 'cos I was fairly keen on the idea of watching Chelsea -vs- Arsenal, think I kept a steady 4.3mph. Not bad I suppose.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Stop - Darren time

Blimey. I got read out on 6music's breakfast show yet again, this time for bigging up MC Hammer's U Can't Touch This. Go me! I don't imagine anyone will listen to it but just in case, it happened at just around 9am, so 2hrs in. FWIW it's a good show anyway.

I also got the song right in Liz Kershaw's name-that-tune competition thing although I didn't bother SMSing. Mind you I'm not too fussed about that because the prizes were shite. Getting into this emailing/texting-the-radio thing though innit. Think I'll try and get on Laverne's 8 o'clock shuffle next week. In fact before even finishing this post I've sent in my entry. If they pick me that'll not just be my name on the radio, it'll be my voice. Oo-er.

Fuck my sleep patterns. Well actually I guess they're not pissing me off that much, but needing to be awake and/or in the office at particular times what with working in a team and stuff isn't really compatible with 'em. Shame really 'cos I enjoy the madness of being up at random times of day and night. Handy, 'cos having regressed into only needing/having 4 hours kip a night, I don't seem to have the complementary ability to stay awake for 20 hours a day. When I went to bed after posting that last entry I probably fell asleep around 0230, and I definitely got up at 0615. Come that evening I was knackered when I got home and went to kip at 2230, predictably enough waking up at 0230. I thought that was a bit early to get up even for me so tried to get back to sleep, failing to do so until around 0345. What followed was a series of 10-15 minute naps until just gone 0600, after which I stayed awake but felt totally fucking shattered. Just couldn't drag my sorry carcass out of bed and ended up getting to work late. Sigh.

Right. I'm off for a walk. My head's a mess.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

down and out in West Byfleet

Dear Mr South West Trains conductor guy on the 2323 London Waterloo to Alton service, December 6th 2006,

Thanks for letting me off the excess fare I volunteered to pay, having missed Surbiton through being asleep and only waking up when the doors locked shut, thus ending up in West Byfleet. Your generosity saved me a good 3 quid. Shame you didn't suggest I stay on 'til Woking which would almost certainly have meant waiting less than half an hour for the train back. Oh well. It could have been far worse. Mind you missing Surbiton twice -- on schoolnights -- in the last 14 days isn't something that I'm particularly proud of. Tonight's was more due to tiredness than being off the rails though, so perhaps I shouldn't be so hard on myself. Probably a good idea to go to bed, mind, what with it being past 0200. Sigh. Glad I sleep well even when the apocalypse is going on outside.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

load of Baldocks

sun and church, in Baldock
Originally uploaded by Darren Foreman.
Went to play table tennis on Sunday. I go up to Cambridge to do so every so often, ostensibly every month but in reality it's been about 4 times this year. Transport's a bit shitty, since somewhat unbelievably there are no trains northbound out of Kings Cross on a Sunday until 10am. Not to Cambridge, that is; to anywhere. First one there is at 1015 which gets in at 1101, being the "Cambridge Express" or summat. Unfortunately the room was booked for 1100 'til 1300, so rather than be late I decided to get a coach.

Got up too late to get the coach. For fucks sake. Then I left the house way too fucking early to get the train, at about 0820, meaning I ended up spending an hour at Kx stood there reading a magazine. Still, I was only going to be 20 minutes or so late.

25 miles or so south of Cambridge is a place called Baldock. I've been there. On Sunday. Because just north of it the train I was on slowed to a halt, the driver told us there was "plastic wrapped around the overhead lines" which meant we were in danger of bringing them down if we proceeded through, and we reversed into the station. Sigh. Last time I went to Cambridge I had train grief too, I guess this was a little less gruesome. Anyway, at Baldock the doors were opened as we were told it'd be at least an hour until engineers would get it all sorted. Most people stayed put, a lot got on their phones, a bunch went hunting for cabs, a few went and had fags, and a couple tried the door of the nearest pub despite it being about 1115. I went for a walk.

Baldock's got fucking loads of pubs. Probably 9 or so in easy distance of the station, which struck me as too many for a town of the size it appeared to be. Mind you the Tesco seemed extraordinarily ill-proportioned too, and seemed to be housed in a stately home or summat. Odd. Generally though it seemed like quite a nice place, somewhere I wouldn't mind being stuck... were the pubs open and me in the mood for a pint. In fact I could even be convinced to go there deliberately, but anyway. Just under an hour passed and I returned to the station; my train was no longer at the platform, and I'd just missed another one that I'd seen arrive and depart as I approached. Bah. 15 minute wait 'til the next one and I got to Cambridge just after 1300. Two hour session been and gone, three hours 'til the next sesh, almost five hours since I'd left home. Oh well.

Nice pint, nice lunch, and we ended up playing 3 hours of good table tennis in the evening. Got home pretty quickly, 40-odd minute wait for a train in a FREEZING BASTARD COLD Cambridge station notwithstanding. Thought my hands were going to fall off. Meant I got to listen to the Sunday evening rock show on local station STARadio though, which was notable not for a particularly strong selection of metal but an ad for a company whose name escaped me, whose slogan was the phenomenally dreadful "SHOT THROUGH THE HEART, AND YOU'RE TO BLAME, WE GIVE IN-CAR AUDIO A GOOD NAME". Sheesh. That reminds me: a tribute act called "Born to be Jovi" played at Kingsmeadow last Saturday. What a rubbish name. Someday there'll be a bloke in a flatcap called Ron Jovi and he'll be great.

Been in a fucking appalling mood all day today. I hope this isn't a regular thing. Really face-like-thunder stuff again though. It started when I woke up to the sound of Matthew Hoggard losing his wicket and England being reduced to 105/8, at about 0400 UK time this morning. Not only were we playing like a bunch of total cunts, but waking up made me realise I'd fallen asleep too early last night to hear XFM's Jack Penate session. Sigh. And XFM don't have any kind of "listen again" regime.

Been up since 0400 anyway. Couldn't get back to sleep, perhaps didn't want to. The utter incompetence of the England team with both bat and ball really did fucking ruin the start of my day though. I was steaming angry when I headed for work at 0830 and even a walk in the rain from Waterloo to the office did nothing for me.

Meetings today, end of last/start of this month type stuff. 5 or so hours of 'em. They went pretty well, but the first one in particular made me feel like a total fraud. Our team got a bunch of praise (in fact, we did yesterday too) for having a phenomenally successful November, yadda yadda yadda. Great work, great integration into the team for the new boys (that includes me), etc, and there was me thinking, oh. Really? I've been worried about productivity 'cos, well, it all feels a bit... easy to me. I thought there perhaps should have been more to do. Not that what we did was rubbish, there just didn't seem like an awful lot of it to me. But what do I know? Our product is delicate, after all.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

fings wot are great or not great

Great: London. I love the fact that there's one road, and only one road, in the city where cars drive on the right. I love the fact that in 1738 40 people were recorded as having "Horseshoehead and Water in the Head" as their cause of death. 50 people dying of "Colick, Gripes and Twisting of the Guts" might be even better. 1 person dying from "Rising of the Lights" might be better still, and another as "Choaked with Fat" might top them all. I love this 1801 quote from Charles Lamb:
I have passed all my days in London, until I have formed as many and intense local attachments, as any of your Mountaineers can have done with dead nature. The Lighted shops of the Strand and Fleet Street, the unnumerable trades, tradesmen and customers, coaches, waggons, playhouses, all the bustle and wickedness round about Covent Garden, the very women of the Town, the Watchmen, drunken scenes, rattles;--life awake, if awake, at all hours of the night, the impossibility of being dull in Fleet Street, the crowds, the very dirt & mud, the Sun shining upon houses and pavements, the print shops, the old Book stalls, parsons cheap'ning books, coffee houses, steams of soup from kitchens, the pantomimes, London itself a pantomime and a masquerade, all these things work themselves into my mind and feed me without a power of satiating me. The wonder of these sights impells me into night walks about the crowded streets, and often I shed tears in the motley Strand from fulness of joy at so much Life.

And I love The Book Of Lists - London for teaching me those things and more.

Not great: the film Bloodsport. It's appalling. So, so bad. It was on Channel 5 last night and I watched it all, at once repelled and morbidly fascinated. The two redeeming features (and fighters) are Jean-Claude Van Damme and Bolo Yeung, easily the only guys capable of doing a half-decent fight scene -- yet the final fight between the two was as bad as, if not worse than, all the dross that had gone before. There were montages aplenty. There was shocking 80s electro-pop of the worst gee-up kind. There was pained anguish worthy of Calculon. There were outfits that I want to be able to programme my television not to show. Oh my gosh. I can't wait until I see this film again. Drunk.

Great: The lyrics to The Zutons' It's The Little Things We Do.

Not great: my week. I've broken many many things at work. Important things. Granted I've fixed them too, but still. I got called out last night, which isn't so bad, but having 3 other people get called out because of something I'd done doesn't make me overly popular. And I was in a fucking appalling mood all day Monday and most of Tuesday too, really depths-of-loathing stuff.

Great: the last paragraph of my brother's blog entry about farting in lifts.

Not great: having my plans for Saturday ruined by South West Trains and their engineering works. And being unable to get to Cambridge before 11am sensibly on Sunday.

Monday, November 27, 2006

from Darren in Surbiton

I forgot to big myself up like a media whore! My name was read out on the radio twice yesterday. In fact it may even have been 3 times, but various issues with my phone conspired to make me miss at least one of the times that Bob and Andy read out short jokes on their show in the afternoon (I SMSed in with "Anarchists only drink herbal tea. Proper tea is theft"), and XFM don't have a listen again thing. But I know for a fact that the "Darren from Surbiton" mentioned twice on Natasha's breakfast show on 6music was me. And if you're reading this before December 3rd or so you can go hear it here. It happens in the second hour, can't remember the exact times I'm afraid. She asked people to SMS in with artists-as-rhyming-slang suggestions and I got 2 out of 3 read out, go me! For some reason she wasn't taken by "I'm just off for a Johnny Cash". :-(

Bloody hell, the office ain't half quiet at 8am on a Monday.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What on earth am I walking about?

The apocalypse hit yesterday. About 10 minutes after I left my Dad's place in Morden the skies opened and fuck me did it tip it down. Shame really 'cos I was going to go for a walk. Mind you I did anyway, just not a really long one. Jumped on a tube to get somewhere dry and got off at London Bridge, from where a slow-ish trot was taken along the south of the Thames to Waterloo Bridge, then along the Strand at Aldwych, Fleet Street -- complete with diversion to Dr Johnson's House -- to Ludgate circus, then back across the Thames at Blackfriars Bridge and back to London Bridge. Even in the variably cold and wet weather London's skyline is amazing. I should go up town on my days off/weekends more often. Maybe.
old signs
Where shall I go?

That's about 3.5 miles all told, I think. Just under a quarter of the distance I did today. *cough* Didn't have a plan, I didn't even decide which direction to turn at the end of my road until I got there. I chose left. The first few miles were pretty boring, but then they would be I guess. Same as a lot of walks. Variation only comes in when uncharted territory is reached, which started today with the footpath linking the A3 and Woodies. Quite useful that. From there it was a trip along South Lane, then under the A3 and onto ... South Lane. Odd road. That ends up in what I thought was Motspur Park, but now know is Old Malden.

Heading there had sort of forced my hand into a Worcester Park/North Cheam route, thoughts of Nonsuch Park entering my mind. But some really old signs pointed in one direction to Surbiton, Epsom and Ewell, and I thought one of the latter two would be a nice trip.

It's on that road, Church Road, that the border between Kingston (a Royal and London borough) and Surrey is. But for crying out loud, we're still in outer London. North of the big road the 406 and 418 go along. Yes, it's deep south, but not out in the sticks. Those are the thoughts I was occupied with as I stumbled along the edges of a pavementless tree-lined road with no mirrors on the blind corners and muddy puddles all over the place. Grr! It wasn't the longest road in the world but still, I was expecting to end up in Stoneleigh really.
Auriol Park

That road doesn't end up in Stoneleigh. It ends up on that road where the buses go, but I turned off it before then. I was in a really residential area I didn't recognise, and frankly with the turns Church Road had taken I wasn't quite sure what direction was right. But a footpath through a park is always right, and that was the choice I took. Auroli park had a map of Epsom and Ewell's other parks too... and I couldn't see Nonsuch Park. That put paid to that plan for good. And in fact the map wasn't right useful really, 'cos it had no roads in it, just council wards and parks. Not to worry, the road the exit I chose came out on looked big enough so I headed along that and hey presto, I knew where I was again. On that big road.

From that big road I knew where I was going. There's something to be said for that, but it's also a bit boring. Nonetheless I picked the 406 route to Ewell, which ended up being a good choice 'cos I got to see a lot of cool autumn colours and stuff at the river/pond in the village. And it's at Ewell Village that I took my next random choice, not really knowing where I was going and relying again on signs... until picking a random footpath just because it was called Mongers Lane. Heh. Carried up on that until again I was in known territory and I followed the main road to Epsom town centre.
pond life

I don't like Epsom. There are a couple of OK pubs but a lot of bad ones, including an enormous Wetherspoons with expansive and astonishing toilets. Besides, I was only 8 miles in and it was only 1pm. But I didn't really know where to go. I thought about walking to Epsom racecourse, and Tattenham Corner, but couldn't remember how to get to the path that goes that way, so instead I thought I'd walk to Ashtead, and/or perhaps Leatherhead.

The problem with walking to Ashtead was that I didn't know the way there either. I took a guess at the bottom of Epsom High Street, went up West Hill, and came across a sign to Ashtead. Hurrah! Got a little bit lost in some residential roads, then found the train line which had a footpath going down the side of it. Instead of that though I crossed the bridge and got lost again in some more residential roads. About 2 seconds after telling Chris how lost I was in a text message I spotted a big road and went to explore. Turned left until about 10 yards later I looked back and saw the sign said Ashtead was in the opposite direction, oops.
Ashtead Common

The road I now found myself on was the A24. It's a big road that goes all the way to Morden and beyond, northbound. In my head the southbound route turns into Ashtead high street. It doesn't. A while down it there was a sign about Ashtead Common, one entrance of which I found myself at, and the right-hand turn had two little gate things flanking it saying "welcome to Ashtead". The high street was that way, I figured, so along I went. For ages. Until I got to some shops I didn't recognise (despite having been to Ashtead before) and the station.

Fuck it. I'd done enough walking. Time to get a train back. Oh, damn it, there goes a train. Shit. And it's a Sunday so there'll not be another one for ages. But what's this? A big common with a map on a sign and some clearly marked footpaths? Don't mind if I do!

This morning, on IRC, Chris and I had had this exchange:

* dsf doesn't really care if it rains
<chris> you might if it really fucks it down and you are miles from shelter!
-me <dsf> yeah but that's unlikely
-me <dsf> i've not walked over fields and shit yet
* dsf has stuck to easy to escape from routes
* chris nods
-me <dsf> and given recent weather, if i do go out i'm sticking to Concrete
It barely rained all day until I was in the middle of either Ashtead or Epsom Common (they kinda merge). With no shelter to talk of. I got fucking soaked. Damn stormbringer that I am. Unfortunately I couldn't tell Chris this because for the past 45 minutes, and for the next 45, my phone said "inactive SIM" on it. I had no coverage. Stupid Orange. I get that at home sometimes too. Orange's north Surrey coverage is fucking awful.

Anyway. The clearly marked paths aren't massively clear. Well I guess they're clear enough, but they're numbered, and I didn't know what number meant what. I'd already had to make a random choice at the start when confronted with a fork, then I diverted onto a different one that looked less muddy, and then at a crossing I changed direction. I thought I was roughly going the right way until I reached the edge of the common and it wasn't a road, but some fields. Erk. Thankfully another path went along the edge, I carried on along that and just basically kept walking. Eventually I came across some other people (which meant my singing along with XFM had to be calmed), a clearing, a pond with some people fishing, a car park, and a road. I had escaped the common.

XFM interlude. I think I do like it, really. Perhaps the variation on Sunday is just enough for it to not piss me off, 'cos I still heard most of the songs Laverne plays every morning but since I was listening to it for 5 hours in total that's not too bad. And I do like that Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. song. I was going to call this blog entry "Get Shoes. Wear Shoes. Walk", or "Walk Of The Worlds", in its honour. But I didn't. Nor did I call it "Nice walk if you can get it", that'll have to wait for another time.

So. I'd not come out of Epsom Common at the corner I'd expected. I didn't really know where I was, just traipsing along an unknown road with nothing but common and fields next to it. Grr. But there was a roundabout sign up ahead and with roundabouts come road signs. Aha! Epsom! Actually it was a roundabout I'd been to before, near the edge of Horton Country Park and on the road towards Chessington. Didn't want to walk through HCP though and couldn't remember the roads, so Epsom it was. The route ended up actually taking me back down West Hill, the road I'd taken out of Epsom on the way out.

In the town centre I thought I'd get a bus back to Surbiton, but after getting some drinks I checked and there was no service for a while. So I walked to Ewell, a slightly different route (guided by cycle signs) which took me through an industrial park. Doesn't sound too pleasant but it meant I got to do one of my favourite things: happen across a great sunset. Love it. And my timing was perfect for the bus too, as I'd picked a walk that got me to the stop just as the bus was timetabled to arrive.

So here's the full route, 15.6 miles. Bloody hell. What a way to spend a Sunday. And I even got back in time for Man Utd vs Chelsea on the box.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Jack Penate

He's wonderful. He's got a myspace and I've been listening to the songs on there pretty much on rotation all day (except for the couple of hours when I headed over to Yahoo! LAUNCHcast and got treated to a 28 minute Manowar epic). Anyway. Jack Penate's great. I don't even care that I got loads of abuse for using the word "skiffle" in the office. All hail Jack Penate. I think I'm going to go to his single launch party in a couple of weeks. He's great. Great I tell ya. Great.

PS thanks to Zane Lowe for playing Jack Penate this week, otherwise I dunno if I'd ever have heard of him

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

All the way home

Good entry this one. Boring, no photos, and loads of text. You lucky lucky people.

So, last night: with music to my ears (albeit with broken headphones, FFHS) and nothing to do, plus a weather forecast saying it was the only evening this week without rain, I walked home. All the bloody way. 12.6 miles.

See yell.com has a walking route calculator thing. You can shove in a couple of postcodes and say you want to walk rather than drive, and instead of the perhaps more sensible response of "how far?!? fuck off!" it actually tells you the route. I thought from the office to home was 18 or so miles but it turned out to be just over 12. I had a bit of a fight using gmap-pedometer 'cos I didn't trust the route yell gave me to be the shortest, turns out it pretty much is though. How dare it know better than me, bah! But still I failed to follow it exactly, through a combination of pig-headedness, road/area preference, and forgetfulness.

First things first, office to Piccadilly Circus. Small distance, horrid walk at 6pm. Too many people around. Just nasty as hell. As soon as I got onto Piccadilly itself though it got better, presumably because people are scared of getting poisoned through being in close proximity to that sushi restaurant where the Russian spy got fucked over the other week.

First deviation from yell's route came at the end of Piccadilly. I didn't want to walk along Knightsbridge, plus I still wasn't convinced it was the shortest route. Instead I wanted to head through Belgravia towards Sloane Square and get on the King's Road at source. I managed the last bit but not without getting a little lost inside Belgravia, ending up on Sloane Street which was rather surprising. Turned out it wasn't a massive diversion though.

The King's Road, and New King's Road, is bloody long. It also fluctuates greatly between posh and lovely and grim and nasty. At one end there's Sloane Square and Peter Jones and a bunch of mews, in the middle there's a knife amnesty bin next to Tesco, ... I love London. I love the way the whole place is a mixture of ace and grim separated by pretty much fuck all. Pick the wrong direction from any given place and you can be somewhere shitty inside 5 minutes. Start somewhere shitty and walk for 5 minutes and you'll find tree-lined roads or a nice park or a river or little square or whatever.

Anyway. At the end of the New King's Road is Putney Bridge, and just as I was walking down the side of the station I got a call from the Frankenkarma's creator. Not sure what he was most interested in checking up on, my progress or his baby's ;-) I was doing better than it was... not 'cos it was broken though, only because the battery had run out and my headphones were fucked. Mind you this had made answering the phone a lot easier 'cos I was listening to XFM on it, playing the same old fucking shit AGAIN.

Putney's where the walk gets rubbish. I really like the centre of town, Belgravia, the King's Road, even the New King's Road in a way, certainly from Parson's Green to the bridge, and I don't mind Putney High Street (which was the scene of my first calorie stop; prawn mayo sarnie, sausage roll and a diet coke please mate ). But from there on...

As it goes the aforementioned had predicted I'd give up on the trawl up Putney Hill, not necessarily through fatigue but because it's a shit walk. He's right 'n all. Walking along the A3 through Roehampton Vale isn't my idea of fun and isn't something I'll be doing again in a hurry. In fact the nasty stretch was a good 4 miles all told. Bah! How disappointing that the entire route home isn't glorious.

Oh yeah. On the A3 there was a road sign saying "Kingston 4". About a mile later there was one saying "Kingston 3". And about a mile later, at the foot of Kingston Hill (where I was coming off the A3) there was a pedestrian/cyclist sign saying "Kingston 4". FUCKERS.

Kingston Hill is long. Not that steep, but fucking long. It never feels that long on an 85 or K3 but that's probably because they're going along at 40mph or so. As I walked I kept thinking, I know this bit, the crest is soon.. and it never was. Well obviously it was, after a while, but a lot longer of a while than it was meant to be. But it was informative, in so far as I'd never realised before just where the border between SW and KT was -- and I'd never have placed it halfway up the hill near the Uni.

Kingston Hill is something else too: very very boring. But I had Radio 1 on 'cos XFM was just pissing me off way way way too much, and they were playing a variety of stuff most of which I'd never heard of. Hurrah! And then along came Tim Westwood too! Hurrah!

Trouble set in near the tail end of Kingston Hill. By the time I'd reached the top I was knackered by the climb but determined to carry on, but as soon as the descent kicked in my mind wandered toward the possibility of jumping on a bus. There were Surbiton buses now, see. I could just get a K3 home. At Norbiton I could get a K1 or K2 also. And if I went into Kingston town centre I had even more choices... in the end the only thing that happened in Norbiton was I stopped for more liquids. Lucozade hydro-active FTW!

As it turns out Kingston was the scene of my second yell deviation. Not through choice this time, I thought I'd remembered the route properly but after checking it this morning I hadn't. But even given that, and my earlier Belgravia shenanigans, the full route was only 0.4 miles longer. Stepped in the door dead on 2130 which meant I'd taken exactly 3.5 hours. That means I averaged 3.6mph, about 0.6mph faster than normal but with liberal adjustments for calorie stops, hills, and traffic/road crossing (virtually none of which were present on any of the river walks) I reckon I must have walked at 4mph pretty much the whole way. Go me! And stuff!

Anyway, that's that then. I can walk home on a weeknight and feel virtually no ill-effects the next morning. My feet are a tiny bit sore but my legs aren't. Not that I plan to do it regularly mind, but it's nice to know it's possible. It'll do as a contingency plan for next time the trains get proper fucked up ;-)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Just took delivery of Frankenkarma and am listening to it right now. Superb stuff. Unfortunately I was listening to it a bit too loud, 'cos someone 3 desks away popped up on Y! Messenger to ask me how comes I wasn't deaf if I listened to music that loud. My excuse is, well, I'm probably a bit deaf at the moment, what with 9 bands and 3 hours in a rehearsal studio over the previous 3 days. Ahem.

I also accidentally bought 8 new CDs. Slayer times 2 (God Hates Us All, Undisputed Attitude), Ice Cube (AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted), Snow Patrol times 2 (When It's All Over We Still Have To Clear Up, Final Straw), Rahzel (Make The Music 2000), Jay-Z (The Black Album) and MOP (Warriorz). £53 for 8 albums isn't a bad price I thought. Shame the woman serving me was so dreadfully dreadfully wrong about School Of Rock's filmic qualities.

I wonder how people with synaesthesia cope with seeing Slayer. Do they smell raspberries for the next 24 hours instead of get tinnitus?

Son, you're a bachelor boy

In front of me in the newsagent this morning was possibly the most single bloke I'd ever seen. He bought: 2 cans of some Red Bull-alike energy drink; a packet of Lambert & Butler; Zoo magazine; Nuts magazine; the Sun. And he was wearing a parka. Good effort son.

Talking of the Sun, top notch headline today of "From Russia With Lunch". Like it.

Today's the day I'm going to get Frankenkarma! Fucking result. I need my music. XFM was entertaining for a while but I'm really fucked off with all these Red Hot Chilli Peppers "give it away box office" things (although I know they finish tomorrow), and the playlist is so dreadfully predictable. Here, XFM, give me a job as DJ. I promise to play these songs every single day: Albert Hammond Jr - 101; that Razorlight one where he whinges about America; Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly - War Of The Worlds; Arctic Monkeys - View From The Afternoon; something by Hard-Fi; something by Kasabian; something by the Ordinary Boys; something by Bloc Party; Babyshambles - The Blinding; Snow Patrol - either that "if I lay here" one, or the one with Martha Wainwright; Panic! At The Disco - I Write Sins Not Tragedies; Muse - Starlight. Have I got the gig yet? Well?

Mind you I dunno how much I'll appreciate music tonight. My ears are ringing a lot from last night. Slayer just couldn't, and didn't, fail to be fucking awesome. Moshing there last night was the first time I've genuinely missed having long hair but that feeling soon disappeared in the shower this morning, heh. What gives with the opening band having finished their set before 1830 on a Monday night though, eh? Especially since they were (apparently -- I missed them) possibly the best of the 4 supports. Bah. Anyway.

Dear In Flames: be better. And faster. Really, much faster. You're supporting Slayer for fucks sake. Stop singing. In fact, just play Take This Life and then fuck off. Did you catch, when you said "what do you want to hear now?", that the crowd shouted "Slayer"? Innit.

Dear Lamb Of God: I thought you were going to rip my face off? You were alright... but actually I think I prefer you on record. Mind you I did think yer last two songs were shit hot and done really well. You don't half sound like Slayer and Pantera though.

Dear Children Of Bodom: 2 songs that sound like DragonForce and then a load of nonsense? Get it sorted. I'm told you started off as a black metal band. Try that again.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thine ears bleed

Handful of Hate
Went to the Peel last night and saw 5 bands: Necro Ritual, Desolation, Amphitrium, Handful Of Hate, and Abgott. Got there early 'cos we'd wanted to see NR, and they were really very good. Again. And this time you could even make out the music 'cos the sound wasn't awful. Desolation are a waste of a good band name and a bit anachronistic, not really being black or death metal, or much cop either. Amphitrium and Handful Of Hate were both entertaining but it's a bit telling when the best song a band does is a cover. Good choices though, Bolt Thrower and Testament tunes. Abgott were, I think, quite good, but by the the time they came on I was pretty fucked and we all left before they finished to get an extra pint in the Cocks. Eesh. Wooj was full of wisdom, turning that pint down because "it won't make the night better, but it'll make the morning worse". I love that line of thinking.

I love all that corpsepaint bollocks too, but it has to be done right. Necro Ritual do it right but the singer in Handful Of Hate looked like a tart. Really. His face looked like a Mr Kipling bakewell tart. Not exactly scary. Not sure if you can make it out in the photos I took though.

Walked about 4 miles this morning, through Berrylands. It's a lovely place when it doesn't smell. Perfect walking weather too, but I had to come home 'cos this afternoon I was out at a rehearsal studio, jamming away on bass for the first time in months, maybe even over a year. I was nowhere near as bad as I thought I'd be.

No Napalm Death this evening but Slayer/In Flames/Lamb Of God/Children Of Bodom/Thine Eyes Bleed tomorrow. Can't wait. The only bad thing about it is that it delays my taking receipt of frankenkarma by at least a day (I learnt earlier this afternoon that it's ready). Alex is my current object of hero worship.

The xbox360 pisses me off. I'm rubbish at the games and don't have enough patience to practice and get good at them. :-( Oh well. Chatting with people through the headset while being beaten at Table Tennis is quite fun for as long as it lasts... before I get in a mood, tell them to fuck off, and log off in a huff.

I know what a teasel is now. That's because I saw a sign showing them, and then a bunch of them themselves, in the fantastically named and not-at-all-incongruous-no-siree-bob wonder that is Wilderness Island, in Carshalton.

My sore throat has nearly gone. Turns out medicinal remedies rather than glucose, sucrose and eucalyptus did the trick. A few Lemsips on Thursday and a bunch of Strepsils since, job done.

Senior executive recommends 20% job cuts across the company. It's good to be back at work.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dude. Week.

Deliverance is a fucking bleak film.

Bleak is a fucking great word.

Alex is building me a Frankenkarma out of the 2 busted ones. I can't wait. Pimp My Karma indeed. In the absence of recorded music I've been listening a lot to XFM, Lauren Laverne is nowhere as terrible as I found her to be on channel 4 years ago but she could do without playing pretty much exactly the same songs every day. Ho hum. On Saturday I was listening to XFM too when someone played the supposedly great new song by the Futureheads, and it was rubbish. I don't really recall when all this new breed of British bands actually came about, eg the Futureheads, Kasabian, Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, The Kooks, etc etc (actually I don't even know if they're all British), but I've got a feeling they're all mostly famous because they opened with a blinding song or album and now may all be releasing dreadful sophomores. I hope that doesn't happen with the Arctic Monkeys. Oh God how I miss listening to the Arctic Monkeys album.

My ears are going to bleed soon. On Saturday I'm going to see 5 black metal bands down the Peel. Sunday I may actually turn up to the studio for a jam, and then I might be going to see Napalm Death, and on Monday I'm going to Unholy Alliance II in Brixton. BRING FORTH SLAYER.

I've got an xbox360 now. A proper fit of peer pressure plus a few minutes spent playing Dead Or Alive 4 at the weekend convinced me it's the right thing to do. I also needed a flimsy excuse to spend enough money on my AA credit card to push me over the top of the "now you can fly to the USA for nowt" threshold. Table Tennis is a good game, Dead Rising is piss funny, DOA4 is frustrating and I'm yet to take PGR3 and Burnout out of the shrink wrapping.

I wish this sore throat would fuck off. I've had it for over 2 weeks now, and with the masses of cough sweets failing to fend it off I've resorted to actually taking something medicinal. Seems to be doing the trick, but I should perhaps leave out the peperami firesticks until it's proper better.

Waterloo to the office is less than a mile, and the opportunities for alternative routes aren't exactly great. I did walk to Vauxhall on one evening last week but that's less than 3 miles despite not going the most direct route. Or did I? Straight down St Martin's Lane, then Charing Cross to the west side of Hungerford Bridge, cross the river and hug it until Vauxhall Cross. Hmm. Maybe that is pretty direct. Either way it wasn't far, but my ridiculous sleep patterns combined with great weather and not a tiny amount of boredom and restlessness meant I prefixed and suffixed my extraordinary weekend with 10 miles of walking.

Both walks were between Waterloo and Euston station, Saturday morning's being in that direction. Went along the south bank of the Thames as far as the Millennium Bridge, crossed and wandered through the city, Bloomsbury, and Fitzrovia. Sunday saw me revisit Fitzrovia, then pile through Mayfair, along the edge of Green Park and then through Victoria, to Parliament Square and along the river to Hungerford Bridge again. Both routes marked out on gmap-pedometer, Saturday here and Sunday here.

Uni reunion between those two walks. Jesus christ. I'm too old for all this drinking. Fucking cracking weekend though, ending with loads of us rampaging through Rockworld as if we owned the place, chalking the pool cues off the walls and necking Red Stripe like there was no tomorrow. And in fact Saturday's tomorrow was monstrously painful and I would have preferred it not to exist, at least in the form it chose to take.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Oh my word. Once upon a time I took this photo of a slice of bread pudding a cafe near here served me. It used to be my favourite cafe ever 'cos it sold omelette-in-a-bun. Those days are over but nonetheless I still pop in fairly regularly to get an egg mayo sarnie. And that's what I did today, and sheesh did they ever sort me out.

My order: egg mayo in a large soft roll, and a slice of bread pudding. This should have cost about £3.50 I think, the BP is certainly a quid but their pricing for sarnies and rolls has always been somewhat erratic. Anyway, he charged me £3.10, ringing up 70p for the BP, and then gave me £2 back from the fiver I handed over. So I spent £3 on lunch.

The egg mayo soft roll was enormous. I mean it's a large roll anyway, but the amount of filling, cripes. But then came the bread pudding... I knew I was in trouble when I carried the two things back in one hand and my wrist hurt by the time I was at my desk, but even then I wasn't quite prepared for the majesty which awaited.

Look. At. The. Size. Of. My. Three. Quid. Lunch.


No, really. Look at the size of it. Look at the can of diet coke for reference. Then look at this photo of my hand on the bread pudding.

bread pudding size


Monday, November 06, 2006

The Cult Is Alive

Well, that's day one back at Yahoo! done with then. They even had me doing some real work come 4pm or so. A very odd feeling to be both the new guy and the veteran at the same time. I didn't by any means hate being there but by the time I got home I was in a terrible mood, in which I remain. Oh well.
My brother is right about School Of Rock. And talking of my brother, his calling a previous blog entry "a wet weekend" reminded me to listen to Big Dipper. Craps is one of my favourite albums of all time. I'm sure I have Heavens on vinyl too and that might just be enough to convince myself I need a USB turntable. Although a copy of the CD would probably be cheaper.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Lost in Thames Ditton

I hate Thames Ditton. I just can't get to grips with it. The road layout has always confused me. So yesterday I tried to overcome that, by walking to Hampton Court in time I had spare prior to meeting up with Loz for his birthday duck-feeding session. A session Thames Ditton made me late for.
me feeding ducks

First mistake: taking the wrong road at Winters Bridge. It ended up meeting with the right road, but was an unwelcome diversion. Then in the town centre I went the wrong way, and finally as I was trying to remember/work out which direction Weston Green was I picked wrongly. Consequently I ended up back on Portsmouth Road. I didn't want to give up completely and from where I was I knew the way for sure: down to the Scilly Isles and right. I just didn't realise it was more than 2 miles :-( At the point on Hampton Court Way where the sign said it was 2 miles I sped up, and I'm fairly sure I managed to do it in 20-25 minutes. 6mph seems awfully fast to me but I was certainly bloody knackered and out of breath when I stopped to get the bus. This is the route I'd ended up going. Look at the fucking state of it. Still, 5 and a bit miles though. Walking from the Bishop to Harts and back plus a little detour in Kingston town centre probably made it 7 in total for the day.

When I was young, about 6 or 7 I think, my family went on holiday to a camp in Sussex called Sussex Beach. Not a Butlins or Pontins, not part of any chain (at least back then) IIRC, I think we went there probably 5 times when I was a kid. Anyway this one year, we were all feeding ducks at a pond, and I pointed at one. It bit me. A fucking duck bit my finger. Being much the same back then as I am now I made a right hooha about it. I got bitten by a duck! It didn't cause any genuine trauma and I've not had to have regressive hypnosis to recall this episode, but it has long caused amusement amongst my family and since then duck feeding has never been a big part of my life. Well yesterday, I fed some ducks. Go me! I'm sure my Kevin and dad will be very impressed when they learn of this.

Fuliguline activities dispensed with the rest of the day was considerably less healthy. Way too much to drink and eat led to a total twat of a hangover this morning. Thankfully birthday season is in recess now, 3 over 3 consecutive weekends to celebrate has been murderous.

So. Work tomorrow. As well as get rid of my hangover I really wanted to clear my head. A walk'll do that, especially a 15 mile one.
Hampton Court bridge

First things first, another stab at Thames Ditton. Actually, the first thing was going to the newsagent (and wondering what a "Newsagent provocateur" would be) to buy the Observer. No Sport Monthly though, FFHS. My Skinless t-shirt says "Trample the weak" on the back and the Sunday Times are reporting that that might actually happen, with a headline of "Doctors: Let us kill disabled babies". Nice.

Anyway. Thames Ditton. I'd looked at a map before leaving to make sure I got it right today. I got it wrong. Not as wrong as yesterday but still wrong. For crying out loud. But whatever.

I don't like Hampton Court any more. Streets might have been a battered up place and every so often full of racists and thugs but I have fond memories of many decent evenings there. And how good is a pub with a branch of Pizza Hut built in? But now it's Zizzi and luxury flats, next to it is some typically overpriced poncey bistro and it's all bollocks. Oh well. I wasn't hanging around anyway.

Just along from Hampton Court bridge is Molesey Lock. This is the second lock on the Thames, Teddington being the first, if you're counting from the sea inwards. I don't really know much about locks but there are a bunch of them about and for some reason I find them really nice to look at. Odder still considering my general distaste for most things waterfaring, but there it is. After that there's Hurst Park, then Sunbury, Sunbury Lock, and Walton. Turns out this stretch of water became my new favourite bit of the Thames. It's fantastic. The weather helped, what with it being clear and sunny and great today, but the views in Sunbury and Walton are awesome. And Sunbury Lock was being used too.
downstream at Sunbury Lock

Again like last week I didn't really have that much of a plan, but since I was heading away from London I had at least thought about a few exit places. An unofficial Thames Path site I'd looked at had made a section out of Hampton Court to Staines, a 12 mile trek that did cross my mind. But I'd already walked 3 or so miles to the start(!) so I was thinking of maybe Shepperton or Walton. By the time I got to the latter I needed to deal with liquidity issues, so headed inland from The Anglers and to the town centre.

Popped into Boots for some scran, by now it was around 3pm and I was thinking of heading back. Just wasn't really sure of the best way. Not sure I would be able to work out the route from the town to the station, train got discounted quickly. The idea of walking back through Esher didn't really appeal so bollocks, back to the river with me for some step retracing. Had to pause thanks to being intimidated by the swans which a guy in front of me had managed to tempt out of the water such that there were about 10 of them blocking the path. One of them nearly bit his hand off when he was taunting them rather than actually throwing food their way. Good! But once that hazard was dealt with it was plain walking.

Sunbury and Walton really are awesome. And facing the opposite direction while the sun goes down, the differences in views were subtle but noticeable. The Thames just seems to rule, really. I hadn't taken many photos on the outbound leg, inbound was better though. Especially the sunsets.

Got back to Hampton Court and there was a train in the station, leaving pretty soon I think, but NO. Thames Ditton was not going to defeat me. One last attempt must surely solve all my issues and so it proved: I turned off Hampton Court Way early enough, went down Summer Road and finally got my bearings. Now I need never go back there again.
sunset in Thames Ditton

A slightly different route back from Portsmouth Road to the house, during which my one-eared music turned into Alien by Strapping Young Lad. What a fucking song Shitstorm is. And you can legally listen to an mp3 of it here! I've listened to it a lot when angry or miserable in the past but today I was neither and the damn thing gave me goosebumps. Ended up listening to it 3 times between Winters Bridge and home. Such a fucking superb and amazing choon, irregardless of the mood I'm in, it seems.

So apparently that was more than 15 miles, and apparently 2600 calories burnt. Here's the entire route plotted on gmap-pedometer. I love that site. Mark found this alternative the other day but I'm staying loyal.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bored journalists and their idea of fun

Got Soccer A.M. on TV and they just showed a newspaper article about the soccerette. It included the phrase:

The 22 year old, who was entered by her boyfriend, [...]

I know it was in reference to a competition, but still. Dear journalist: tick a boo, son.

Friday, November 03, 2006


The Governator famously said he'd be back in some film he was in. In the title song of the album I referred to just yesterday, Bacdafucup, Onyx sing "Move back motherfuckers, the Onyx is here" (although they probably spell it "Move bak muthafukkaz, de Onyx iz here", daft bastards). Annihilator sing "Get back, back, just leave us all alone" in Never Neverland. The Beatles did a song called Get Back, right? And on IRC whenever someone returns from being away from their keyboard for a bit, protocol dictates they announce this to the channel by uttering the single word "back".

Well, it appears that I'm back. I figure that I returned to working life at 6pm today. 6pm on a Friday evening and there I was: not in the office, but embarking on a weekend after which lies a return to the office on Monday. Just like everyone else. I'm back.

It makes me nervous. All the good things about my time off -- and, granted, they are legion -- are now over, and all the bad things are preying on my mind.

I'm scared of going back. It's 2 months since I did any programming. It's 2 months since I interacted with colleagues. I don't mean any specific colleagues, I mean just in general: it's 2 months since I was last in a working environment. 2 months since I've been at Yahoo!. And it's a new job, a new role, with new responsibilities and new colleagues and new techniques and new meetings and new things to learn to care about. It's intimidating. I'm scared.

Now I have moments, in fact to be fair I have quite a lot of moments, where I look at myself and think, Foreman, you're being an arse. You're good at your job, you'll be good at this new job, you're good at and for Yahoo! and Yahoo! is good for you. And they wouldn't have kept you on or given you a new job (and, yes, 2 months off) if they weren't convinced you were good.

It's probably true. But the last few days have had fewer of those moments than the couple of weeks prior. The 3 extra days threw my psychological preparation for going back off balance, and in retrospect I perhaps shouldn't have accepted them.

Hold on. That's crazy talk. Turn down 3 days off? Who am I kidding? Scratch that from the record.

How will people react to me? What do people think? These are questions I ponder too. I've had 2 months off, longer, for fucks sake. What's so great about me that I got it and others haven't and perhaps wouldn't? Admittedly I quit, and not as a bargaining ploy: it wasn't just a gift to me from Yahoo!. But if I wonder what's so great about me that I got treated so well, surely other people are wondering the very same thing? And waiting for me to demonstrate it? I guess I have something to prove to everyone, myself included.

And what of friends? Barely anyone has said anything to my face that I'm an arse or whatever. But let's face facts, I didn't take off around the world purely for taking off's sake. It's true that I've come back feeling massively refreshed, relaxed, confident and happy, but those are almost side-effects. The brutal truth is I designed the holiday as something I considered to be an objectively cool thing to do, and I wanted to be someone who did something objectively cool. I wanted other people to look at what I was doing and think, wow, that's cool. Perhaps he's cool. Hell, when drunk and making notes in my phone one night I left a message for myself that said "I wanna be adored". Can you believe that? Frankly I wanted to engender feelings of jealousy -- just not the sneering "look at that flash fucker" type, which is now the type I fear I've inspired. I hope I haven't.

But how fucking lame and shallow is all of that?

Not that it even matters any more. I fluked it, I lucked out, I got away with it. I had questionable motives for going away but they gave me the impetus to go through with a world tour -- littered with escape hatches and safety nets, all unused -- that turned out to be every bit as subjectively cool as I'd imagined it to objectively be. And at the end of it I've finished up all those things I said above: refreshed, relaxed, confident, and happy. Result. Whether anyone thinks I'm cool or not? Who cares?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Friend of the music business

My metal biorhythm seems to be stuck. I do wonder if the pendulum will swing back in hip hop's favour sometime soon (I did very much enjoy listening to Onyx - Bacdafucup yesterday in my left ear) but for now I'm well and truly in the clutches of guitarists. Went up town to pick up my Unholy Alliance II tickets yesterday, an exercise which cost considerably less than the next couple of hours spent in HMV, Virgin, and Sister Ray. Ended up with:

  • Scum and From Enslavement To Obliteration by Napalm Death. Can't believe I didn't own these before on CD (IIRC I have 3 vinyl copies of From Enslavement...). I wanted the version of the latter that contains the former as bonus tracks, but I guess it's no longer in Earache's best interests to do things like that. Should have bought it in 1992 I guess!
  • Deicide by Deicide. OLD SKOOL DEATH METAL. The weird thing about Deicide is that first time round I didn't really like them that much, and thought the lyrics were incomprehensible. But when listening to Lunatic of God's Creation the other day the words were simple to make out.
  • Altar by Sunn O))) & Boris. I have no idea what to expect from this.
  • The Shape Of Punk To Come and Songs To Fan The Flames Of Discontent, both by Refused. If memory serves, Refused were supposedly a fantastic punk band. I'm hoping so. Much like Nasum I missed their entire career through taking very little notice of metal for too many years.
  • Dead Gone by Winnebago Deal. I saw Winnebago Deal in July, there's only 2 of them but by christ they made a fucking racket. A good 'un at that. I was going to go and see them again the week after, can't remember why I didn't. Anyway I thought it was about time I bought some of their music, just hope this album's a good choice.
  • Phoenix Risen - A Candlelight Records Compilation by various artists. If not entirely black metal it's at least partially so. I bought this on the basis of it being a double album for 5 quid and containing a track by 1349 on it.
  • Rephlexions by various artists. A "braindance" compilation from Aphex Twin's label, bought because it has a track by Bogdan Raczynski on it and I've wanted to get hold of some stuff by him for a while. This way is cheaper than spending the 30-odd quid his individual albums seem to command on Amazon. Having this album in amongst a pile of, I think, 4 of the above metal/punk CDs didn't half make the guy serving me at Virgin laugh.
Come the end of the day I also had The Best Of 2006, Uncut's cover disc for this month. Bit odd having a best of 2006 in my hands on November 1st but who am I to judge. If some people are to believed then the year might as well be over once October's finished anyway. I reckon Chris is a bit jealous that my October lasted 31 days and 14 or so hours this year ;-)

Going back to Unholy Alliance II finally, I'm wondering whether I'll actually be able to hear the bands there. Plans are vaguely afoot to make that the hat-trick in a long weekend of metal: on Sat 18th there's a 5-band black metal line-up playing down the Peel, and on Sun 19th Napalm Death are at the Underworld. Eek. Good job I kept all the earplugs from the various amenity kits the airlines gave me.

Holiday haiku

Some time on my hands
Seconds From Disaster on
Holiday haiku

Business class travel
Superiority bought
Lounges mean free beer

First, to Gibraltar
Just to pick up my tickets
Cheaper to start there

Just like part of Kent
(Except they drive on the right)
Cool barbary apes

Dubai for three days
Heat oppressive; bus tour dull
Guinness wonderful

A few days at home
Mostly preparing to fly
Much like the Bluetones

Although, I am wrong.
Their album was really called
Expecting To Fly

To Australia
23 hours, with one stop
Film channels broken

Brother in Sydney
Waiting for me, 5am
Sleep is for losers

City centre, beer and pool
Clovelly, then home

Mara's, and the zoo:
My family and other
Animals (Durrell)

Steve Irwin is dead
Australia in mourning
Get over it, sheesh

Boats, bridge, and Bondi
(Junction and beach); monorail
Pokies, racism

Randwick and Manly
Martin Place, Darling Harbour
Kochie on Sunrise

Quick pop interlude:
I like to move it move it
I like to move it

Weekend in Auckland
Boats, the Domain, Sky Tower
Branches of Subway

Volcano, no soil
Hundreds of plants, no wildlife
Too many photos

Sydney flight delayed
Seat 1B, English Darren
Way too much to drink

5 hours coast to coast
Rubbish plane with no TV
Domestic flights suck

Perth and Fremantle
Bon Scott's grave. Let there be rock!
Dolphins in the Swan

Hong Kong. In daytime,
Grey, drab, and way too humid.
Breathtaking at night

Star Ferry, Peak Tram
Ngong Ping skyrail, huge Buddha
Day at the races

Singapore, too hot
Purveyor of magic shoes
Night safari, zoo

Sentosa Island
Six quid fifty pence a pint
You heard. Six fifty.

Half day in HK
Upgraded in the hotel
Early morning flight

Tokyo, Japan
Limousine to hotel
The Marunouchi

English not spoken
Hardly any Diet Coke

Saw the Emperor
Subway tickets a struggle

Ginza, then Antwerp
Watching the guy next to me
Incredibly drunk

Time to get a grip
Explore and experience
Not be defeated

Shinjuku station
Park, with hobos and a shrine
Discarded porn mags

Around Roppongi
Embassies and Hobgoblin
A bar called Boozer

Subway to Ueno
Decided against the zoo;
Watched fountains instead

The Sony building
In Ginza, stopped for a pint
More beer was to come

To Ryogoku
Not on any of my maps
40 beers on tap

Popeye's, a great pub
Beers wheat, smoked, local, foreign
Four pints please, "domo!"

Day in Hakone
To see Mount Fuji

Train to Yumoto
Bus: Motohakone-ko

Pirate ship on lake
Ropeway to the cablecar
Back to Yumoto

Cans for the journey
English pub, the Rose and Crown
So long, Tokyo

Time travel is odd
Timezone I to timezone R
A very long day


Back down to Earth. Bump.
Two eight five bus to Kingston
A fat cat no more.

At home now. Work soon.
But an extra three days off

Might go out quite soon
These boots are made for walking
That's just what they'll do.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I just don't know what to do with myself

Hah! Take that, Halloween sleep patterns! Turns out this isn't my last day of freedom after all. Had a chat with my new boss this morning, and for various reasons -- he wasn't sure of the date; this week is busy; team meeting and a new starter arriving; my desk isn't ready; I may have failed a loyalty test -- my return to work has been postponed 'til next Monday. So that's fantastic news, but it has blindsided me a little. I've got 4 days spare now! Including today that is. My only plans for today were to chat to him about tomorrow and make a phone call or two, and I've done all that.

Maybe I'll go for a walk. I should sort out another 8 mile trek just so I can get an Eminem reference in 'cos I forgot to do so yesterday. Something about my palms being sweaty, knees weak, arms heavy, losing myself in the music, the moment, etc. Except now I've ruined it by using it all up here. Pfft. Not doing no Proclaimers version instead though.

I'm going to spend some of today and tomorrow listening to my Samhain box set I think, since it's all appropriate and stuff. It being fucking superb helps 'n all.

This night, anything goes

Dead bodies hanging from poles 'n all that. Oh, except it appears to be "this day anything goes, burning bodies hanging from poles". Shows what I know.

Bloody Halloween, anyway.. My stupid mind/body is being an arse to me now. It's just gone 4am and I've been awake since 3.30am, when some crazy "wiggle waggle" kids' nonsense on radio 4/the world service disturbed me (both from my sleep and in a deeper psychological sense). I've put on 1xtra which is playing some FILTHY drum and bass right now, but it's not helping me get back to kip. :-( My sleep patterns are messy at the best of times but one day before going back to Yahoo! isn't the best time to develop pseudo jet lag. Hopefully this, and the miserable mood that enveloped me last night, are just symptomatic of the return-to-work nerves I've been feeling recently. The blues suck.

Could be worse though -- at least this drum and bass show is a decent listen.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Rage against the machines

Last but one day of freedom today. Got up late :-( but still managed to get out of the house at just after midday. Only 2 hours or so after I had originally planned, bah.
First machine rage: my new Karma. Volume control works. Scrolly wheel works. Sound only comes out of the left earphone. Tried a couple of pairs to make sure it's the Karma's fault. Fucking hell. Means I don't have a proper mp3 player any more :-(
Figured I'd go for another walk today. I'd decided to go to Kew Bridge and pick up where I left off on Friday. So after leaving the house I bought 3 drinks, a lottery instant, and got on a 281. The bus dictated the route and I thought I'd stay on until Twickenham and then get a bus or train to Kew Bridge from there. It also gave me a nice long journey so I could get online.
Second machine rage: my phone was fucking playing up. ssh connections were being proper shit, and when I finally got online the phone then crashed and rebooted after I SMSed Loz (ironically enough about the ssh client I was using). Grr!
Off at Twickenham and onto the platform. Actually I failed to read the signs and went down to the wrong one.
Third machine rage: damn trains. I went up/across/down to platform 3, by which time they'd made a platform alteration, and I had to go up/across/down back to platform 5. Gah!
So here I was. On the devil's side of the river, I made my way back to the south and set off Chiswickwards. Today's weather forecast said it was going to be 18 or 19 degrees celsius, but as of tomorrow or Wednesday it's going to be a few degrees lower. "Welcome back to work!" temperatures, innit. Anyway with weather like this and still no work, I figured this was the last time for a while I had no excuse not to (a) walk a decent distance (b) wear shorts.
Kew railway bridge

Kew Bridge. Chiswick Bridge. Barnes Bridge. Hammersmith Bridge. Putney Bridge. Wandsworth Bridge. That was my route today, all on the south side of the river and mostly on the Thames Path. Actually it may all have been the Thames Path, but there's a bunch of it between Putney and Wandsworth that isn't actually by the Thames. Bah.

The whole route from Kew to Putney is really nice. The bridges themselves are quite cool, the greenery is great, there's the Harrods Furniture Depository and the Stag Brewery and Craven Cottage to look at, and a bunch of pubs to stop in if you're so inclined. I imagine it's great when the sun's out but I wasn't that fussed. It seems to me that walking is just, well, fun. Really. I mean I guess I'm a latecomer to this but I've discovered, realised, whatever, that walking as an end in itself is really quite enjoyable. It's all liberating and stuff, not trying to get somewhere specific by a particular time or anything, I have the freedom to just stop wherever and whenever I want or, more often, just keep going and see how far I can get. Today I really only thought in advance of getting as far as Hammersmith. But once there I just though, fuck it, carry on to Putney and get the bus home. And at Putney I thought, why stop now?

Mind you the answer to that question is actually "because Wandsworth's all shit and stuff". The walk between those two bridges is barely next to the river and fairly unpleasant, especially towards the end with all the timber yards and civic amenity sites and all that nonsense. When I did finally reach the bridge I decided against going on, 'cos it was getting a bit dark and I'd stopped for a few minutes to stare at the flocks of birds flying around like swarms of bees. Quite a cool sight that. But it was the first time I'd stopped for longer than it takes to take a photo and when that's done, fuck it, I'm not starting again.
Harrods Furniture Depository

Oh, and Wandsworth to Battersea is a shit walk 'n all. I did get halfway across towards the north thinking I'd pop in the nearest enemy territory pub, but turned back after being overcome with a "north of the river? Are you fucking mental?" revelation/stench. So that was it really, I made my way to Wandsworth Town station (rather circuitously, because I got lost) and got a couple of trains home.
Fourth machine rage: there was another power cut in my flat. Thankfully only for 2 minutes, I was almost out of the door and off to the pub when it all came back on.

Fifth machine rage: when the power came back on -- not when it went off, when it might have been more understandable -- my laptop crashed and rebooted.
Once the power came back I again sought out gmap-pedometer.com to work out how far I'd walked. Turns out it was just over 8 miles. Not bad that. It means in the last 4 days I've walked a marathon, pretty much. Not quite 3h30m but still...

So, Mastodon, Blood Mountain. What a fucking odd album that is. Only given it a couple of listens so far, but I can't really categorise it as metal, or in fact as any one genre. It jumps all over the fucking place. In fact listening to it is like eating with chopsticks: you can get into it for a few seconds at a time, sometimes even half a minute, but then it all goes totally wrong and you can't get a grip on anything at all. Everything goes all over the place and you're left wondering when you'll next get your teeth into something.
In December 2004 I posed the somewhat rhetorical question on my old blog "What kind of fucking road name, or word, is Yeend?" after having come across a road called Yeend Close in Molesey. Well colour the question no longer rhetorical and me enlightened, because as of yesterday I know exactly what kind of road name and word it is. In West Molesey there is a church called St Peter's and for 53 years the Reverend John Yeend was its vicar, and the aforementioned road was named after him. The name/word itself dates from at least the 1500s, is from the Gloucestershire area, and possibly dervices from "Ye Ende". I know all of this thanks to an email from a guy named Dave, in whose direction this part of this blog entry constitutes a doffed cap.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

complete and utter walker

As if I wasn't living in the past enough, today I walked home* from high school. What the hell is going on with me? I seem to have become addicted to walking. It surely won't last, but really, it's a bit odd. My addictions are rarely healthy.

The only thing on my plate was visiting me old man for lunch, sometime between 1400 and 1500. But the trains are all fucked (no services at all thanks to engineering works) so I expected to get 3 buses. Ended up getting just the one. First off I walked 1.75 miles to the outskirts of Kingston, taking a pretty odd route, on which I discovered the Eight Bells is now called the Honest Cabbage(!). Got a 131 from there, supposedly to go into Wimbledon but I wasn't getting on with the bus at all. Too many people, too bumpy, stopping too much, and I was in desperate need of a drink. So I got off in Raynes Park, just near Krispy Kremes, (ie one stop before RPHS) and walked the rest of the way, taking a route I trod weekdaily from 1987-1990. Hold up, let me shove it into gmap-pedometer.com and see how far it is.

Hmm. 2.4 miles. I thought it would be more than that. Anyway, there we have it. Another 4.15 miles walked. I hope I lose some weight from all this. I even briefly considered walking part of the route home, but got as far as the bottom of the hill when I happened to be at the bus stop the moment a 93 arrived. Bussed all the way in the end, along with every urban savage and skaghead alcoholic around. Fucking North Cheam, jesus.